Fire Risk Assessment Guide

Download a pdf version of the fire-risk-assessment-guide.pdf here.

welderAlmost every business in the UK is required to carry out a Fire Risk Assessment for their work premises, and if they have five or more staff there must be a written record of this.

If you are not sure what is involved in a Fire Risk Assessment, this guide will take you through the whole process. The first thing you must decide is whether you or someone in your organisation is competent to carry out the assessment, or whether you are going to need to seek professional help. There is no shortage of ex fire service personnel out there now offering consultancy services that include risk assessments, staff training and other related services.

Whether you can do the assessment in-house will depend on the nature and complexity of your premises and on your own knowledge and experience. For someone running a small shop or office, it is highly unlikely you need to seek outside help to do your assessment. For larger workplaces, or which perhaps use hazardous chemicals or store flammable material, you may need an experienced person in at least to do your first one.

Only you can judge whether you are capable of carrying out your own assessment. To misquote Donald Rumsfeld, it is the unknown unknowns you need to worry about. How can you consider things that you don’t know you don’t know? If you think an intumescent strip is something you watch online while you are meant to be working, you may need outside help.

What Is The Purpose Of A Fire Risk Assessment?

It is best to view the fire risk assessment as a structured way of helping you to manage the fire safety of your workplace. You have a duty as an employer to look after the health and safety of your staff, and this is an important way to help you identify what action you need to take to be sure you are providing a safe environment. You will also, of course, be safeguarding your business by reducing the risk of fire. It is a sobering fact that over 70% of businesses that are affected by a major fire either never reopen or fail within three years.

The assessment will help you to:

  • Identify any possible fire hazards;
  • Identify what you need to do to minimise the risk from these hazards;
  • Identify how to ensure that people on your premises will be safe if a fire does start.

Carrying Out Your Fire Risk Assessment

If you have very small premises this does not need to take long at all, but if you have to cover a large, complex area you may well wish to break up the task into manageable blocks of work.

There are five stages to the risk assessment process

1. Identify Hazards
2. Identify People At Risk
3. Evaluate The Risks
4. Record Your Findings
5. Review

Each section is covered in detail on the following pages (or click on the links above).

Bear in mind that when you have completed the process, you do not just shove it on the shelf and forget about it. The process will almost certainly have thrown up things that you need to do in order to minimise the risk of fire and have safe procedures in place. The assessment should result in an action plan of things that require attention. It is a good idea to categorise these as high, medium and low priority and set timescales against each action for when it should be completed by.

Someone must be responsible for making sure the actions identified are implemented. The nature of some of your actions may well mean they are not within the expertise of anyone in your team, but someone still needs to be responsible for making sure that a suitably experienced person is appointed to undertake any such specialist work.

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